Your jacket is finished and on the road to the UK, ready to be sent out next week. Watch the Olive Green jackets have their temporary dye buttons removed, and new ones attached, as well as pressing and final quality checks before they started their journey.
Week Nine - Dyeing
We're getting very close!
This week your chore jacket has travelled 20km up the road from our factory, to Pizarro where it's being dyed as we speak.
One colour and size at a time, the process takes 7 hours from start to finish.
It begins with soaking to make sure colour is taken on evenly, then the dyes are mixed to our exact recipe and water is added into the drum. For hours, they'll spin one way, then the other way, making sure colour coverage is perfect. And then it's time to dry.
Once each colour has been dyed and dried, they'll head back one colour at a time, to the factory, for buttons to be sewn on, as well as plenty of quality checks. Once checks are complete, your jacket will be pressed, folded and labelled for it's journey by road, to us, by van. We'll be awaiting that delivery and ready to get numbering and sending jackets out to you. Excited is an understatement.
Week Eight - The final week of sewing
Your jacket is sewn and ready for dye! This week you'll see each and every sewing stage completed and your jacket ready to take it's colour. Notice that temporary buttons are added for the dye stage, as the correct ones are sewn on post-dye, to match the exact shade of your jacket.
Week Six - Sewing in progress
Your jacket has progressed to the second week of sewing, watch below to see it really starting to take shape, plus a glimpse of the label designed by Connor Campbell.
Week Five - Sewing begins
This week sewing has begun. You'll notice a lot of preparations taking place, including pressing, marking out label positions and pocket locations, then shoulder panels being attached onto the back pieces.
You’ll also notice every jacket is white at the moment, but fear not, that’s because we use a technique called ‘garment dying’. Every jacket will be entirely sewn (except for having it’s buttons sewn-on), before it’s dyed. Once sewn, each jacket is dyed exactly to our dye recipe. During the dye, intentional shrinking takes place too, so that when it comes to washing your jacket in the future, it won’t shrink.
There will be more sewing to see next week, as your jacket starts to take shape. You’ll soon see it start to resemble the jacket it’s going to become!
Week Four - Cutting
For the past week, Sandra, our head pattern cutter has been preparing the cut plan, which means simulating how to lay out the 20+ pattern pieces per jacket onto the fabric, making the very best use of the fabric to reduce waste. With 6 size variants, this is a job that takes some serious working out.
Once the cut plan is finalised, it's printed to scale. Then, on a cutting table that's over 10m long, the moleskin fabric is neatly laid out and layered up, pressed flat, ready to be cut.
P.s! At this point we often get asked, "I ordered a coloured jacket, why is all the fabric white?" That's because we use a technique called Garment Dying, we'll tell you more about that in a couple of weeks.
Week Three - Making Your Fabric.
With all the travel restrictions in place, we've been unable to get to France to see your moleskin fabric being woven. But, our good friends at the mill managed to capture many of the different stages of the fabric being made. As they're a vertical mill, every part of the process from cleaning cotton to finishing the fabric gets done under one (very large) roof.
Almost every step of the process is documented below. An incredible amount of skilled work goes into making sure that every step of the process is done properly so a beautiful cloth comes out the other side.
So, here's where your fabric has been...
Step 1. A lorry pulls up to the factory with a literal truck load of organic cotton. It's compressed and packaged tight into large bales...
Once clean, it goes through multiple stages of carding.
Carding is a process of separating the individual fibres, using a series of dividing and redividing steps. That process causes the fibres to lie parallel to one another and further removes any impurities.
Eventually, the fibres combine to make up thick, but loose, cotton noodles (not a technical term). Watching these yarns getting put into their containers is hypnotising.
Those thick yarns are then spun and spun, into stronger and much thinner yarns, ready for weaving.
Next, thousands of yarns are lined up and put through a warping process to strengthen them.
Once the yarn is ready, it gets woven on very old looms. This is when you start to see the fabric coming to life.
After the fabric has been woven, it goes through multiple stages of finishing. The videos below show the fabric going through through the stabilising, cleaning, and quality checking stages.
And then, as if by magic, the fabric is finished. Ready to be shipped to our factory in Portugal!
Week Two - Making the Buttons.
We started making the Corozo nut buttons for your jacket over 15 years ago. Well, that’s when the Tagua Palm tree was planted, and only after 15 years do they start to produce Corozo nuts.
The female trees produce mocochas (big spikey husks) which drop naturally from the tree like a coconut. The husks contain enough valuable Corozo nuts, to make thousands of buttons.
Once collected the nuts are laid out to dry in the sun, before processing into button blanks. Blanks are quite literally blank disks of white nut, from which many styles and sizes of button can be cut. Every nut is cut into slices. The smaller slices destined to become tiny buttons used on shirts, and the biggest and most valuable blanks will become large coat buttons.
Next, the blanks are sent to Andrea & David, Lise & Steve at Courtney & Co in the UK, ready to be made into your buttons. The first stage is taking the blank and ‘turning’ it, which means using machinery to carve the top & bottom sides of the button into the right style & size.
With the buttons carved and ready, there’s just three final stages of the process: polishing, dying and drying.
Week One - The Beginning.
Here's what's happened so far, and what to expect from our making process.
- Every Friday from now until your jacket is delivered, you'll get an update including videos of your jacket being made
- You'll see buttons being dyed, fabric being made, sewing, dying, checking and numbering
- If you have questions about the process along the way, just drop us a message and we'll do our best to show you what's what.
- The most popular name in Batch No.7 was Andrew, not even including the Andy's!
- You bought jackets from 47 countries, and if you're in Lithuania, Luxemborg, Hungary, South Africa, Kuwait or Bermuda, then you'll have the only jacket from Batch No.7 in your whole country...!
- The most popular colour of jacket was Olive Green, followed by Navy, Bill's Blue, Black and Tan.
Progress this week.
This week is never the most visual, it's more about getting your ducks in a row, ready for production to begin. On Monday we called Sergio to place our order, after counting the exact sizes and colours you chose. Over the next week we begin to finalise the cut plan. That means organising how best to cut out every pattern piece while making as little waste as possible. This is a job done by Sergio, Sandra and Lurdes.
Sandra is head of pattern cutting and Sergio and Lurdes are responsible for production standards, quality and timings. They wanted to pass on their thanks, on behalf of the whole team, for your order, every jacket means a lot.
We've worked with them to make our jackets since our very first Batch, two years ago. We're lucky they agreed to work with us back then, because at the time, we were a very young brand with no track record of ordering from factories. It was a risk for them to agree to work with us. They've since said how glad they are to have taken the punt on us and that they can trust us. We know in return that we've found a great maker to work with for a long time. We have you to thank for that trust.
Other than Sandra, Sergio and Lurdes, there will be a lot of people involved in making your jacket. From the 40 makers in our mountainside factory in Guimarães, to the skilled fabric weavers over in France, who make the organic cotton moleskin fabric. Then there's the team of four button makers in the UK, thread makers in Germany, packaging makers in the UK, a Scottish motion designer who created the artwork for your label, and others who we'll mention as time goes on.
There's going to be a lot to show you, and we'll be sharing each step of the way until your jacket is made and ready to send in mid July.